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30 Minute Soul Food – Spicy Rice & Beans…

New home & new job has left my kitchenware feeling rather unloved.  My food processor is gathering dust and my matroyshka measuring cups have become mere ornaments to pretty up my kitchen.  My foot’s on the mend which means I’m out and about more now, and have less time to poke about in the kitchen like I did a few months ago.

Anyways, when there isn’t enough time to spend all day cooking, this one pot wonder is a life saver; throw everything in a pan, put the lid on it for a bit, then serve.  This is a real hug in a bowl, or a bowl full of hugs… Spicy, hearty, warming, stomach filling… I could go on!  And the end result is always delicious – slightly different every time I make it, but that’s the fun of it – it’s definitely food for the soul, and satisfying enough for times when you’re feeling greedy.  Enough rambling, here’s (roughly) how I make my Spicy Rice & Beans…

One Pot Wonder!

totally warming food for the soul!

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 large red pepper, diced
  • 1 large red chilli, sliced
  • 1 large clove garlic, crushed / finely chopped
  • 1 400g tin red kidney beans – drained & rinsed
  • 1 400g tin black eyed beans – drained & rinsed (or any other bean you fancy! Adzuki works well!)
  • 1/2 cup frozen sliced green beans
  • 225g long grain rice
  • 750ml vegetable stock (preferably hot)
  • 100g tomato puree
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp hot chilli powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Method:

  1. Heat the oil in a large deep pan and add the onion & pepper – fry on a fairly high heat for around 5 minutes until the onion starts to brown
  2. Turn down the heat, add the garlic, chilli, paprika, smoked paprika & chilli powder and fry for a further minute
  3. Throw in your canned beans, frozen beans, hot stock, tomato puree and cayenne – mix well and bring to the boil
  4. Stir in the rice, cover and simmer gently for around 20 minutes (until water has been absorbed and rice is tender)
  5. That’s it – serve, and enjoy!

See, I said it was easy.  If this isn’t comfort food then I don’t know what is.  Best of all, it lends itself to whatever fresh/frozen ingredients you’ve got lying around – perfect for one of those ’emptying the fridge’ days.  If you’ve only got one tin of beans, add more veg; I’ve made it with carrot, courgette, sometimes mushrooms – and I’ve even been known to throw in a diced potato.  Yes, I make it that often!

The above quantities will make 3-4 portions (generously) as a stand-alone main dish. Use common sense; if you need to feed more people, add more stuff! If anyone tries it, I’d love to hear how yours turns out!

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Cocoa-Coconut-Cupcakes! (gluten & dairy free!)

Cocoa-Coconut-Cupcakes! (gluten & dairy free!)

Everybody needs cheering up on a Monday, don’t they?  B’s been feeling under the weather, so I decided to make yet more cakes in an attempt to perk him up.

I used up all the nuts in the cakes I made the other day, so I raided the cupboards and decided on a mixture of Cocoa Powder and Creamed Coconut (I but the Patak’s sachets of creamed coconut which is solid and then I chop it).  Here’s what came out of the oven:

And here’s how I made it…

Ingredients:

125g gluten free self raising flour (I used Dove’s Farm)

125g brown sugar

50g dairy free margarine (I used Vitalite)

25g Cocoa Powder (the Green & Black’s that was in my cupboard)

3 free range eggs (small to medium sized)

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp lactofree milk or milk substitute

1 tsp gluten free baking powder

50g creamed coconut (chopped)

Easy Peasy Method:

  • Measure out your dry ingredients and mix them together in a bowl
  • Add your wet ingredients and mix well until there are no lumps and you have a nice thick batter
  • Spoon the mixture into cupcake cases, fairly full
  • Bake for around 20 minutes at 190 degrees C
  • Try not to burn your fingers when you try to eat them straight from the oven!

The chopped creamed coconut left lovely gooey chunks of coconutty goodness through the cakes – you can see it in the pic here:

This mixture made about 15 small cakes.  15 small cakes, for 2 people… all this baking can’t bee good for the waistline.  It’s just me and B here, and we live about an hour away from family… so whatever I make in this kitchen, gets eaten in this kitchen.  Oh well, that’s a dilemma for another day, these cakes brightened up my Monday and that’s all that counts!

SaucySaturday: Smoky Salami Pasta (gluten & dairy free!)

Saturdays are meant to be fun, free and easy, yes? That’s why, on a Saturday, I like to make food that’s quick and simple.  It still needs to be tasty though, and it still needs to keep B happy, since he’s jumped on the gluten & lactose free bandwagon with me, to make life easier.  Tonight, we fancied pasta.  Pasta and olives.

I should probably explain that this isn’t strictly just ‘salami’ pasta – I used some smoked streaky bacon, too.  I had some salami left over from last night’s epic pizzathon, and some bacon in the fridge ready for the mandatory Sunday bacon sandwich, so I used a bit of both.

 

Ingredients:

5 slices of salami, chopped

4 rashers smoked streaky bacon, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced / finely chopped

1 small green chilli, finely chopped (deseed for less heat)

500ml tomato passata

1/4 tsp smoked paprika

1/4 tsp black pepper

175g dry GF pasta (I used Sainsburys corn penne)

 

Method:

  • Put a large pan of water on to boil for the pasta
  • In a drizzle of oil, heat the salami and bacon in a large saucepan for around 5 minutes over a fairly high heat, until they start to brown
  • Add the chopped pepper to the pan, turn down the heat, and stir through, allowing to cook for a few more minutes
  • Add the garlic and chilli, and heat for no more than a further 30 seconds (burned garlic will become bitter, and by this stage the pan will be hot so it will cook quickly)
  • Now stir in the passata, and season with the smoked paprika and black pepper

While the sauce simmers, it’s time to add the pasta to the boiling water.  Simmer for about 7 minutes, until the pasta is cooked but still firm – ‘al dente’

  • Drain the pasta, and quickly stir it into the sauce
  • Allow the pasta to heat in the sauce for about a minute, and then serve!

This made enough to feed 2 hungry people.  Me and B are always greedy hungry.

Of course, pasta loves a side of olives.  Stuffed olives, to be more precise.  I had bought a jar of ready-pitted olives, and really fancied stuffing them with lactofree cheese. Tonight was the first time I attempted the ancient art of olive-stuffing, and it was a bit fiddly, but turned out great, with the use of the back of a small spoon.  Then I dressed them in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of tomato puree, and about 1/2 a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar.  They were yum, if I do say so myself!

So that was my Saucy Saturday.  Now sat with B, sipping a GF lager, and watching the Bodyguard.  Perfect weekend :)

 

I’ve Been Baking: Banana Cupcakes (gluten and dairy free!)

Okay, this is probably my greatest gluten free baking success to date, and it’s all thanks to Katie at Smell the Flours.  Her recipe for Banana Nut Bread is here – it brought on immense muffin cravings and I needed to get in the kitchen and make something sweet.  I deviated from the original recipe a  bit, mainly because I didn’t have all the ingredients, but had reasonable substitutes, and also because I find it difficult to stick religiously to any recipe.  I will have to, at some point, go back to the recipe and follow it step by step, because it looks so amazing.  Pictured below is my take, which turned out to be mini cupcakes…

I did have the desire to make sort of mini-muffins, but that didn’t turn out the way I’d planned. (Note to self: buy cake papers that are strong enough to hold the batter needed for muffins…)  I filled the first few cases fairly full, and one by one they collapsed and I watched in horror as the sticky batter poured out onto the baking tray.  So, I had to fill the flimsy cases half full, resulting in fairy-cake / cupcake type mouthfulls.  However, they were delicious, nonetheless!  Okay, so below, is how I ended up making mine…

Dry Ingredients:

120g GF flour (I used Dove’s Farm self raising)

90g fine brown sugar

1/2 tsp baking powder

Pinch salt

50g chopped Brazil Nuts

Wet Ingredients:

2 medium free range eggs

2 ripe bananas, mashed

150ml peach juice* (see notes below)

3 tbsp honey

1 tbsp oil

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Method:

  • Get your oven heating to around 180 degrees C
  • In a large mixing bow, put your dry ingredients together and mix well
  • In a separate smaller bowl, mix all of your wet ingredients
  • Add your wet ingredients into the larger bowl with your dry ingredients, and stir to form a sticky batter
  • Pour the mixture into cupcake cases, and fill them as full as your cases will handle
  • Pop them in the oven, keep an eye on them, and in about 25 minutes, they should be done!

*Okay – confession time – the truth about the ‘peach juice’… with breakfast this morning, I had tinned peaches with soya yoghurt.  I didn’t want to waste the juice from the tin, so I poured it into a plastic pot, and decided to keep it.  According to the label, it’s ‘natural peach juice’ – so I don’t see why you can’t use any fruit juice you fancy instead.  Phew. Glad I got that off my chest.

From the quantities above, I got 15 small cakes.  These cakes were much like I’d hoped they would be – moist, fluffy, and sweet.  Not dry.  Not crumbly.  Not heavy.  If I hadn’t made them, I wouldn’t have believed they were actually gluten free.  And B enjoyed them too, and he’s not even gluten intolerant!

FridayFood: Polenta Pizza (gluten free, of course!)

When your intolerances get in the way of you ordering in a pizza, it doesn’t have to ruin your weekend.  In fact, it can be more fun to make your own! Last night, I made (and ate) so much food, I could barely move afterwards – BBQ pizza with a polenta base, a side of crispy potato wedges with a creamy garlic & herb dip, and even a gluten free lager to wash it all down with.  I was only cooking for me and B, and I think it’s fair to say I made too much food.  That didn’t stop us eating it all, mind you. Anyway, pictured below is my Friday Feast.

Yes. We had a whole pizza each. I had a search online, and took inspiration from a handful of recipes for the bases before getting busy in the kitchen, mainly these ones; annabelkarmel, fatfreevegankitchen, and Carla’s GlutenFreeRecipeBox.  Below is what I ended up doing, and gives the quantities to make 2 pizza bases, roughly 10 inches, and around about 1cm thick.

Ingredients:

190g polenta (dry weight)

850ml vegetable stock

1/2 tbsp xanthan gum

1 tbsp GF plain flour (I used Dove’s Farm)

1 tsp dry parmesan substitute

Method

  • Bring the stock to a simmer then slowly add the polenta, whisking as you do so
  • Keep at a very low heat, and cook for around 3-5 minutes, until you have a smooth polenta mixture (add more water if it starts to become dry)
  • Turn off the heat and mix in the xanthan gum, flour and ‘parmesan’

Now time to make them into pizza bases…

  • If you have pizza tins, spread the mixture into the oiled tins to desired thickness
  • I don’t have a pizza tin, so I put a sheet of baking paper over a dinner plate and used that.  The polenta will probably be stick and stubborn, so persevere and try to spread it evenly
  • Bake in a fairly hot oven (200 degrees or thereabouts) for 15 minutes
  • Once done, the polenta will feel springy and spongy
  • Remove from the oven, and either allow to cool, and refrigerate until you need it, or put on your toppings and pop them straight back in the oven!

I was surprised at how well the base held up.  The middle was a little bit on the floppy side, but the majority of it was very ‘handleable’.  Pizza is all about the hands, and if you’re gentle, this base doesn’t require a knife and fork!  It is, however, very filling, so one pizza between 2 should be plenty.

I topped mine with homemade BBQ sauce, which was amazing! The recipe is here.  I also added grated lactofree cheese, fresh spinach, and some salami. Of course, you can top it with whatever you like! I like my pizzas crispy, so I baked them for 25 minutes, meaning the polenta had a total of 40 minutes in the oven.

Now, pizza wouldn’t be pizza without a side, would it? I made some simple potato wedges to go with mine, and of course, a Dominos-esque garlic and herb dip.  With inspiration from this beautifully simple recipe, I threw together 100g Lactofree soft cheese, 50g Alpro plain soya yoghurt, a crushed clove of garlic, some chives and a squeeze of lime juice, and wound up with a delicious dip!

So, that was my Friday Food.  I would definitely make a pizza base from polenta again.  I’ve seen some fascinating things turned into ‘alternative’ pizza bases before, but in taste and in texture, I always imagined polenta would be pretty similar to one made from bread.  And I was right.  I’d love to hear if you’ve made any weird and wonderful gluten free pizza bases?

Hungry for Homemade BBQ Sauce?

I’ve been playing around in the kitchen, because it’s Friday and tonight, I want to make a pizza to end all cravings for Dominos.

The pizza bases were ready to go, I just needed to create a tangy, oozy BBQ sauce to tickle the tastebuds with just the kick you need for a Friday night in.

Why don’t I just buy a jar of gluten free barbecue sauce to top the pizzas? Well, because this way is more fun, and have you read the ingredients list on a jar of sauce lately? It usually makes for scary reading.

Just a note on how to make it, it’s a really simple sauce to put together, and while there may seem like a lot of ingredients, I just used what I had to hand.  If there’s something on the list you don’t have or don’t usually buy, see if there’s something you have in your cupboard that you can substitute.  Recipes are great for inspiration, but you can always tweak them to suit your tastes.

 

Ingredients:

1 tbsp olive oil

1 small red onion, chopped

1/2 red pepper, chopped

2.5cm piece of ginger, chopped

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 green chilli, chopped

300ml water

5 tbsp tomato puree

3 tbsp honey (please use agave nectar instead to make this vegan)

1 tbsp tamari sauce

1 whole star anise

1/2 tsp each of: paprika, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, black pepper

2 tsp molasses

juice of 1/2 lime

optional: 2 tsp cornflour

 

Method:

  • In a saucepan, heat the onion, pepper and ginger in the oil until they soften
  • Add the garlic and chilli and heat for no more than another 30 seconds
  • Now add the water and turn up the heat
  • Add in all the other ingredients, except for the lime juice
  • Bring this up to the boil and allow to simmer for 15 minutes
  • It should now start to smell like BBQ sauce. Add the lime juice and heat for about a minute.
  • Take it off the heat, transfer to a blender, and blend until smooth (depending on how good your blender is, you may want to fish out the star anise before blending)
  • At this stage, I like to put it back into the pan and add cornflour to thicken it up.  To do this, mix 2 tsp cornflour into about a tablespoon of water, and add it to the sauce.  The cornflour needs heat to thicken, so simmer the mixture for a further 5-10 minutes

That’s it! Allow to cool, bottle it, jar it, put it straight on your pizza, mix it in with some pasta, dip your chips in it – the choice is yours!

This recipe makes about 400ml sauce, scale it up or down to suit your needs, or store the leftovers in the fridge and it should keep for a few days.

Bitter-sweet Beetroot with Sexy Spinach Quinoa…

This is a short & sweet, simple recipe. It’s fool proof.  But don’t let that fool you – it’s delicious; tasty and satisfying.  You have my word.

I was inspired when I found this recipe for the beetroot: a baker’s doesn’t original recipe so using 4 medium sized fresh beetroots, I sliced them, drizzled over some balsamic vinegar and honey (just switch this to some agave nectar to make this dish vegan), covered with tinfoil and popped them in a hot oven for 30 minutes, at around 220 degrees.

While they were in the oven, I got onto making the quinoa.  Quinoa is up there as one of my favourite grains, and it’s something that I had never even tried before I went gluten free.  Now, I don’t know how I lived without it – there are so many things you can do with it, and it always tastes amazing. Below is how I made it tonight…

Ingredients:

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 bell pepper (of any colour – I used orange), finely chopped

1 clove of garlic (a nice fat one, minced or finely chopped)

75g fresh spinach

250g quinoa (dry weight)

600ml hot vegetable stock (I use GF bouillon powder)

Method:

  • In a large pan, gently heat the onion and pepper in a little oil for around 10 minutes, until they soften
  • Stir through the garlic and add the hot stock
  • Add the quinoa to the pan, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes
  • When there is very little water left to be absorbed, put the spinach on top of the quinoa, cover the pan and allow it wilt for a few minutes.
  • When the spinach is wilted, stir it through the quinoa, and serve…
  • Take the beetroot out of the oven (it should be tender now) and serve with the quinoa – drizzle over any juices left from the beetroot pan!

That’s it. As easy as that.  It’s a perfect mid-week dish when you’re tired from work and need feeding quick.  I got 3 servings out of the above quantities, so it fed me and B tonight, and there’s leftovers for B’s lunch tomorrow. Happy days :)

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